How David Sharp met his controversial death on Mount Everest in 2006
David Sharp Mount Everest

David Sharp’s death on Mount Everest caused a scene and aroused public outrage amid controversy surrounding how he was handled on the mountain by fellow climbers and sherpas alike. Only a mountain like Everest could give rise to a tale as vile as this one. The never-ending debates that followed are the ideal illustration of the cleavage to which contemporary climbing appears to be subject. There are now two schools of thought. On the one hand, there are people who believe that morality and sympathy have no place in the zone of death and that if you don’t prioritize your own survival, you run the risk of experiencing it too. On the other hand, there are many who believe that helping a climber who is in pain should be a top priority since life is more valuable than any peak.

But more than anything, I get the idea that there are people who support commercial trips and those who oppose them. You must first put yourself in the position of the amateur climber who has spent tens of thousands of dollars, who has been training for months to reach the summit, and who is almost there in order to sort out the many points of view. after weeks of diligent work, the expedition leader, who is waiting for his flock’s triumphant return to base camp with a heavy stomach, supports them.

On the other side, we have the investigative journalist looking for a scoop, the outraged public, the actual, seasoned mountaineers who are having a hard time with all this circus, as well as the pioneers whose names have become legendary and whose word is worth gold. Not really that easy… In the meanwhile, our purpose is to recount the tale rather than render an arbitrary judgment.

The day is the 15th of May, 2006. On the Tibetan side of Everest that day, there are a lot of people. Mostly commercial trips, one of which stands out is Mark Inglis’ attempt to climb the world’s highest point while missing both legs. Inglis is a New Zealand climber. Around midnight, one by one, the teams attacking the summit from the advanced camp began their ascent.

A first party arrived in the well-known Green Boots cave at about 1 am in the morning, and what they see there leaves them speechless: a climber is seated next to the body wearing green boots. He appears to be half-sleeping and entirely immobilized. They examine his condition and realize that it is hopeless, so they decide to continue climbing. A Turkish squad shows there a little while later. identical observation, same conclusion. This morning, a total of forty climbers will pass in front of the amorphous climber. Everybody will keep moving toward the top.

My name is David Sharp, and I am with Asian Trekking

The poor man was standing nearby when the Lebanese mountaineer Maxime Chaya halted as he descended from the summit he had just reached.

He alerts Russell Brice, the head of his expedition, about the mountaineer’s existence and makes an effort to provide oxygen. Brice begs him to continue on his trip without providing any answers, pointing out that at this height it is difficult to assist someone who is unable to walk: “It would take at least twenty persons to lift him. Around midday, Sherpas who have also descended from the summit exchange some oxygen and a brief greeting: “My name is David Sharp, and I am with the Asian Trekking team.” He is eventually dragged out of the cave to take a brief sunbath, but again, they decide that his health is too critical for them to do anything else.

On May 16, a fresh team that had just passed by the base camp brought news of the death of the climber who had been left behind.

Investigation revealed that David Sharp was actually a member of the Asian Trekking team; they were only giving him the necessary supplies for a solo attempt. In actuality, he had left the forward camp by himself and at a clearly (too) late hour on May 14. (mountaineers coming down came across him walking slowly towards the summit). He was carrying very little oxygen, had no Sherpas with him, and had clearly overextended himself. The puzzle of this catastrophe is not always simple to put together now.

Even if the scandalous movie “Dying for Everest” provides some solutions to many issues, certain testimony deviates slightly. Additionally, the documentary “Everest Beyond the Limit,” which chronicles the trip led by New Zealand guide Russell Brice, contains a portion of the incident around the twelve-minute mark.

Mark Inglis, all guilty.

Even so, the incident created a stir in the climbing subculture when Mark Inglis let go in a subsequent interview. Even Sir Edmund Hillary made a remark about Inglis and everyone else who passed Sharp on that particular day. This is how our double amputee ended up ensnared in the media frenzy while others kept a low profile while remaining well-hidden in their balaclavas.

By chance, a few days later, an American team successfully retrieved the Australian mountaineer Lincoln Hall who had been left for dead on the summit on May 25 due to cerebral edema. Some people didn’t take long to draw the conclusion and start screaming foul, but you have to consider the circumstances: Sharp was almost unconscious and immobile when he was discovered, whereas Hall was up, speaking, and moving. So, it stands to reason that any climber who happened to be traveling in front of him that day would have assisted him without objecting.

All of the trapped mountaineers in the world might be rescued if those foolish yaks could ascend to an altitude of 8,000 meters, but if there is no more grass to eat, nobody is left.

Who was David Sharp?

English mountaineer David Sharp passed away on May 15, 2006, not far from the top of Mount Everest. He was born on February 15, 1972 in Harpenden, near London, England, and was educated at Prior Pursglove College and the University of Nottingham. While he was dying, other climbers were passing him on their way to and from the peak, despite their attempts to save him. This sparked controversy and discussion.

Sharp was regarded as a skilled rock climber who appeared to acclimate well, having previously ascended Cho Oyu, and was well-liked at climbing camps for his sense of humor.

He had a brief appearance in season one of the television series Everest: Beyond the Limit, which was produced during the same time as his disastrous Everest journey.

Sharp studied at the University of Nottingham and enjoyed mountain climbing. He had previously worked for an engineering company and occasionally took time off to travel and go on climbing trips, but he had intended to begin working as a teacher in the fall of 2006.

In 1993, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering. He was employed by the large security firm QinetiQ. He left this position in 2005 to enroll in a teacher preparation program, with the intention of beginning his teaching career in the fall of 2006. David Sharp was a skilled mountaineer who has climbed some of the highest peaks in the world, including Cho Oyu in the Himalayas. Sharp disapproved of using a guide on mountains he was familiar with, local climbing help, or artificial means of ascending a peak, such as high-altitude medicines or extra oxygen.

Over 40 people witnessed David Sharp dying on Everest, yet none of them stopped to assist him.

David Sharp informed his worried mother that on the mountain, “you are never on your own” before he departed for his mission to conquer Mount Everest. Climbers may be found anywhere.

A sense of security is provided by the several other climbing teams who make daily attempts to reach the summit, but this security is really a mirage, as seen by the more than 200 climbers’ dead remains that act as somber checkpoints along the route.

Daring Attempt by David Sharp

David Sharp had already made two attempts to climb the tallest peak in the world but had to retreat before reaching the top. Since about 40 other climbers would be there when he passed away on Everest, his statements to his mother would turn out to be frighteningly prophetic.

Sharp, a 34-year-old British mountaineer, was no novice; he had already reached the tops of the highest peaks in Europe and Africa (Elbrus and Kilimanjaro), and an expedition leader had personally invited him to his first ascent of Everest after being impressed by the ease with which Sharp had scaled the Cho Oyu, another mountain in the Himalayas.

David Sharp made the decision to climb the peak alone and without any oxygen tanks on his third try. Although a lack of supplementary oxygen had previously resulted in the deaths of numerous other climbs, Sharp was this time adamant that he would reach the summit despite the advice of another climber that carrying the large bottles up the mountain would exhaust him.

Other parties would subsequently report spotting the lone climber at various locations higher up on the mountain over the next day. Sharp started his deadly trek on the evening of May 13th. Nobody was able to confirm whether he reached the summit on the 14th, but at some point in the day, he started to descend.

The First Discovery

Most climbers refer to the body of “Green Boots,” an Indian climber who died in 1996 after succumbing to hypothermia, as a type of benchmark by which to measure their advancement. When Sharp made his initial ascent of the summit in 2003, he came upon the oddly preserved body, clad permanently in mountain gear and lime-green boots.

Read about Green Boots, the famous body on Mount Everest

A party of climbers had a bad shock on the evening of May 15 as they entered the limestone cave that Green Boots had indicated. They noticed David Sharp was there when they peered inside and saw that the long-dead climber had company. It seems that he had stopped at the iconic cave to take a break while descending.

The group claimed that Sharp sat with his arms over his knees, had icicles hanging from his eyelashes, and did not react to their yells. Although they believed he was already unconscious, the climbers did not radio basecamp for assistance. Instead, they abandoned him.

Only 20 minutes later, another party encountered Sharp in the cave. They once more yelled at him to get up and go, but this time Sharp simply waived them off without saying anything. 36 more climbers were making their way up the mountain that day; some of them tried to talk to Sharp, and their differing descriptions of his health would lead to some of the debates following his passing.

The frozen remains on top of the mountain demonstrate how challenging rescue operations can be since victims frequently remain where they fell because bodies above a certain height are too tough to recover.

The same is true for climbers who encounter the “death zone” of the mountain. Climber Maxime Chaya and his colleagues realized there was nothing they could do when they saw David Sharp still within the cave as they made their own descent from the peak. Chaya sat with the Englishman and prayed until he was forced to leave or risk his own life; those who heard his frantic radio messages at the base camp could only listen and weep. The Englishman’s face was already turning black.

The controversy surrounding David Sharp’s Death

At least 40 other climbers passed by David Sharp in the cave while he was still alive and did not do much to assist him, which led to a great deal of controversy surrounding his passing.

Whether he may have been rescued if one of the climbers had given him medication or oxygen on the first day he sat immobilized is still an open question. There are conflicting claims from the other climbers as to whether radio calls for assistance were actually made or whether they were given orders to abandon him and go their own ways.

The behavior of the climbers that went by Sharp particularly upset Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the top of Everest.

The behavior of the climbers that went by Sharp particularly upset Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to reach the top of Everest. On her trip, “there was no way that you would have left a man beneath a rock to die,” Hillary said, denouncing the contemporary zeal of “those [who] just want to go to the top.”

Even though it is debatable if David Sharp succeeded in getting to the summit before passing out from the cold, his body will join the others in alerting future climbers to the mountain’s ongoing dangers.

What witnesses said about David Sharp’s death on Mount Everest

It is without a doubt that more than 40 people passed by David Sharp at the Green Boots cave when he was struggling for life. Even amid worldwide outrage, here is what they had to say in their accounts.

Himex Expedition – First Team

Several teams were organized by Himex to ascend Everest during the 2006 climbing season. Bill Crouse, a mountaineer, and guide, led the first team. On May 14, at about 1:00 a.m., Crouse’s expedition party was ascending close to the “Exit Cracks” on the North route when they came upon Sharp. Sharp was visible to Crouse’s crew as they descended at 11:00, but this time he was further up the mountain at the base of the Third Step. More than an hour later, after Crouse’s group had reached the Second Step, they turned back to find that Sharp was above the Third Step but was going extremely slowly and had only advanced by around 90 meters (295 ft).

On this diagram, the Three Steps on the northeast ridge approach are indicated, and a 2 indicates where Sharp sought cover under the Green Boots’ Cave rock overhang.

Turkish Team

Reports from a group of Turkish climbers were a further source of information about Sharp. On May 14, they set off from their high camp in the evening, basically going in three different groups.

The Turkish crew encountered Sharp while ascending in the dark somewhere between late at night and early in the morning. Around midnight, the first group came across Sharp, discovered he was alive, and assumed he was a climber taking a little rest.

They were allegedly waved on by Sharp. Others who saw Sharp afterward presumed he had passed away since the conditions so far up the mountain make it nearly difficult to collect the corpse of a deceased climber. Between these two meetings, Sharp is said to have slept off. Other climbers who came across Sharp subsequently noticed that he wanted to sleep, and a comment attributed to him saying that he did was eventually carried in various news media accounts.

On May 15, some members of the Turkish team reached the top first thing in the morning, while others descended after reaching the summit owing to problems one of their team members was experiencing.

Serhan Pocan, the Turkish team leader, had previously passed Sharp during the night and believed Sharp was a climber who had lately gone away. At around 07:00, the Turkish team members who had turned back ran upon Sharp again. Pocan realized that Sharp was alive and in terrible distress when it was light outside.

Sharp had no remaining oxygen, severe frostbite, and partially frozen limbs. Two of the Turkish climbers stayed, gave him a drink, and made an effort to assist him. They were obliged to depart when they started to run low on oxygen, but they intended to come back with additional oxygen.

Their early attempts to assist were hampered by their own difficulties in bringing Burçak Zolu Poçan—the climber in their party who was experiencing medical issues—down safely. Serhan Pocan radioed the remaining members of the summit-descending crew about Sharp as he and Burçak descended. Around 8:00 a.m., two additional Turkish team members cleared Sharp’s iced-up mask so he could breathe, but they were running low on oxygen themselves and had to descend. Later, together with several Himex expedition members, the surviving Turks made another effort to aid Sharp.

Himex Expedition  – Second Team

Max Chaya, Mark Inglis, a double amputee from New Zealand, Wayne Alexander, Mark Whetu, an experienced climbing guide named Mark Woodward, and his Sherpas, notably Phurba Tashi, formed the front group of the second team of Himex climbers. On May 14, the group departed their high camp at a height of 8,200 meters (26,903 feet) late that evening, close to midnight. By roughly 30 minutes, Chaya and the Sherpa he was climbing with were in the lead.

Around one in the morning, Woodward and his group—which also included Inglis, Alexander, Whetu, and a few Sherpas—met Sharp, who Woodward knew wasn’t supposed to be there. They could tell that he was breathing even though he wasn’t moving or cognizant and had serious frostbite.

Woodward claimed that they shouted at Sharp to get up, get moving, and follow the lights back to the high camps after noticing that Sharp had no oxygen and thin gloves. Sharp’s eyes were illuminated by Woodward’s headlamp, but Sharp made no response.

Sharp could not be saved, according to Woodward, who felt Sharp was nearly dead and in a hypothermic coma, saying, “Oh, this poor man, he’s stuffed.” Woodward tried radioing their Advanced Base Camp to inquire about Sharp but received no response. God bless you and may you rest in peace, Alexander said before the group continued. Woodward acknowledged that it was not an easy choice, but said the safety of his own team members was his first priority.

The lives of his entire squad would have been in danger if they had stopped in the intense cold at that time. To attempt a rescue at such an altitude, one must be awake and able to move about.

Maxime Chaya arrived at the top at 6:00.

Sharp was shivering when Chaya and the Sherpa he was with, Dorjee, came across him during their descent. They tried to aid him. Over the group’s radio, Chaya also informed Russell Brice, the Himex expedition manager. In the gloom of the ascent, he had missed seeing Sharp. Sharp was asleep, trembling violently, and only had a thin pair of wool gloves on. He was also missing his hat, spectacles, and goggles.

Sharp was discovered with just one empty oxygen container, severe frostbite, and frozen hands and legs.

Sharp stopped shivering at one point, making Chaya think he had passed away; nevertheless, he soon began to shiver once more. He didn’t react when they tried to give him oxygen. Brice told Chaya that he was out of oxygen and that there was nothing he could do but come down after approximately an hour. “It almost appears like he [David Sharp] had a death desire,” Chaya told The Washington Post.

Following Chaya’s descent, some members of the second Himex group and a Turkish group ran upon Sharp again and made an effort to assist him.

The lead Sherpa for Himex, Phurba Tashi, and a Turkish Sherpa attempted to revive Sharp by giving him oxygen from a spare bottle they had discovered, patting him to try to increase circulation, and trying to give him something to drink. Sharp occasionally stumbled out a few phrases. Even with aid, the group tried to help Sharp get up, but he was unable to do so. Then they lowered Sharp into the sunshine. Sharp had to be carried since it took the two toughest Sherpas almost 20 minutes to lift him just a few steps into the sunshine.

Mark Inglis Controversy and conflicting accounts

After David Sharp passed away, Mark Inglis received harsh criticism from the media and other people, including Sir Edmund Hillary, for failing to assist Sharp.

Inglis said that Sharp had been passed by 30 to 40 other climbers who were also en route to the summit but who failed to make an attempt at a rescue, but he received criticism for failing to assist Sharp merely because he was more well-known. According to Inglis, Sharp was already doomed at the time of his ascension and was ill-prepared, missing suitable gloves, and bringing insufficient supplemental oxygen. The original version of his statement read, “I… radioed, and [expedition boss Russell Brice] responded, Mate, you can’t do anything. He has been without oxygen for X amount of hours.

He is indeed dead. The problem is that maintaining one’s own life, much less maintaining the lives of others, is quite challenging at 8500 meters.

According to Inglis’ own words, he thought that Sharp was likely beyond saving by the time the Inglis party passed him on their climb and the alleged radio calls to their base camp. Brice, who was initially criticized for allegedly telling Inglis during his ascent to continue without evaluating the situation at the time or the likelihood of Sharp’s rescue, disputes the claim that any radio call was made about the stranded climber before Maxime Chaya informed him about it about eight hours later.

In the gloom of the ascent, he had missed seeing Sharp.  Sharp was at this point without gloves or oxygen, trembling hysterically from acute frostbite. It was established that Brice kept thorough logs of all radio communications with his expedition’s members, recorded all radio traffic, and was being filmed by the Discovery channel at the time. This information supported the theory that Brice first learned that Sharp was in trouble when climber Chaya contacted him at around 09:30.

Mark Inglis said in the documentary Dying for Everest: “From my recall, I utilized the radio. There is nothing I can do to help, and I received a message telling me to go on.

I’m not sure if that came from Russell [Brice] or from someone else, or if it’s simply hypoxia and it’s all in your head. As there was no way for Brice or the other climbers to have known how long Sharp had been where he was found during the climbers’ ascent, it is thought that if Inglis did in fact have a radio conversation in which he was informed that “he’s been there X number of hours without oxygen,” it must have been on Inglis’ descent. Inglis recanted in July 2006 that he had been instructed to continue climbing after alerting Brice to a fellow climber who was in trouble, blaming the harsh altitude circumstances for the confusion in his recall.

For a documentary titled Everest: Beyond the Limit, the Discovery Channel was filming the Himex expedition. This included an HD camera carried by Whetu (which was rendered useless during the ascent due to the extreme cold) and helmet cameras for some of the Himex Sherpas. Footage from these cameras showed that Sharp was only discovered by Inglis’s group on their descent. The party of climbers who were with Inglis, however, acknowledged that they did find Sharp while ascending, but they do not corroborate that Brice was notified about Sharp while ascending. The Inglis group couldn’t have rescued him by the time they got to him on the descent and got in touch with Brice because they were out of oxygen, extremely exhausted, and suffering from serious frostbite in several places on the mountain.

Jamie McGuinness

Mountaineer Jamie McGuinness of New Zealand wrote of a Sherpa who arrived at Sharp while descending, “David received oxygen from Dawa from Arun Treks, who also made repeated attempts to assist him in moving for probably an hour. But he was unable to make David stand by himself or even support himself on his shoulders. Dawa also had to leave him. David was not going to be able to descend the difficult parts below even with two Sherpas “.

In 2002, Sharp and McGuinness led an expedition that scaled Cho Oyu successfully.

He also joined Sharp and other climbers on the 2003 trip to Mount Everest. In 2006, he offered Sharp the chance to join his organized expedition to climb Everest for not much more than what he eventually paid Asian Trekking, but Sharp rejected since he wanted to climb Everest alone. Sharp did not anticipate being rescued, according to McGuiness, who said in the documentary Dying For Everest: “Absolutely not, he was clear to me that he recognized the risks and he did not want to imperil anyone else.”

Discovery Channel TV Series – Everest: Beyond the limit

On May 15, David Sharp was briefly captured on camera while shooting the first season of the television series Everest: Beyond the Limit, which was produced during the same season as his disastrous journey.

The video was captured by a Himex Sherpa who was trying to assist Sharp and a Turkish Sherpa when they came across Sharp and one of the Himex party of climbers, which also happened to include Mark Inglis, during their descent.

Is David Sharp’s body still on Mount Everest?

David Sharp’s body is not still within the Green Boots Cave, regrettably. The Everest climber’s body was left in the cave for over a year after he passed away there on May 15, 2006. Then, in 2007, his family requested that it be taken down. Sharp’s body was taken out of the cave by Sherpas, who then buried it in the mountain.

Why were climbers criticized for not helping David Sharp? What should they have done differently?

When the first crew who came across him instructed him to start moving down the mountain, he literally waved them off. Whether he was delirious or not is unknown, but on the 14th at least, about 11:30 PM, he was still appearing to be in no need of rescue.

From then, we move to the encounter at 1:00 am on the 15th, where it is said that he is “stuck” in position and is just able to nod his head. I’m not sure. There may have been enough time for that to occur in the 90 minutes, but it seems more probable that nobody stopped to assist him, missing their chance to reach the peak.

In either case, it is reasonable to assume that he was unable to speak at that time or he would have requested assistance.

Brice, the group leader, claims no one ever informed him they came across Sharp at one in the morning, but if they had, he would have made an effort to save them. However, the person who phoned him claimed that by 9:00 AM, the time of the first recorded touch with Brice, Sharp’s forearms and lower legs were fully frozen. He didn’t believe a rescue was conceivable because of it, the climbers’ exhaustion from more than 10 hours of ascending, and Sharp’s general lack of response.

He wasn’t given oxygen until approximately 1:00 PM on that day, more than 12 hours after he was originally discovered unresponsive and unable to speak. By then, he was able to say his name and the name of the group he was with but was unable to stand.

Who is to say what actually took place there? Could he have been rescued if the first person to notice his discomfort had given him oxygen? Because they didn’t even attempt, we’ll never know, which is why they are condemned.

How many days did David Sharp endure before his death over Mt. Everest?

Most likely less than one day. He probably stopped moving in the middle or late of his summit attempt, and by the end of the next morning, it appears he had passed away. There is no way to correctly predict this and there never will be.

Not 40 excursions, but 40 climbers are said to have passed him. That is probably the number of those that attempted to summit that day. Remember that many of those people are paying customers who wouldn’t know if he was dead or alive, wouldn’t know what to do about it either, and are still slogging up one after another.

The majority of the remaining climbers are commercial mountain guides who are in charge of their novice customers on the mountain and are unable to abandon them to aid someone else on their adventure. A combination of group irresponsibility, the tiredness from climbing Everest, and plain old selfishness usually accompany exceptional achievers throughout their high successes.

Saving someone in distress at 8000 meters or higher is significantly more difficult, rare, and amazing than reaching the summit of Everest. You would think they would be vying for the opportunity.

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Jan 23, 2023
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